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5 Awesome Time Management Tips for Your Big Family


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Written by Sara Dennis of Classically Homeschooling.

For the last decade, I’ve been homeschooling four children, usually with toddlers or preschoolers roaming the house at the same time. During that time, I have developed a few practical time management tips to keep our homeschool day flowing smoothly.

Time Management Tips for Your Big Family

1. Teach the Same Topics on Multiple Levels

Have your kids study the same topic as much as possible, even if they’re on different levels.

Think about it. It’s far easier to cover ancient Egypt at different levels than it is to have one studying Rome, another reading about the Crusades, a third learning about the Mayflower, and a fourth covering the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s.

And yes, one year that was my life.

Jumping back and forth was hard. So the next year I combined kids as much as possible and had them studying the same topic. Then, I could prepare for just one topic, studying up on Egypt, for example, so I could discuss it with my high school teens and introduce it to my younger kids. The teens read about the details of mummification. The elementary kids read a picture book. And then everyone could join in mummifying a chicken.

Life is simple.

The same goes for science. The teens can study their high school textbook about biology, cells, and genetics. The middle school kids can read a middle school textbook on a similar topic. And your little ones can read picture books from the library.

Then everyone can gather together to study onion cells under the microscope and create a yummy animal cell model from cake and candies.

You won’t be tearing your hair out trying to teach three different topics to three different stages.

2. Start with Morning Time

Since your kids are studying similar subjects, use morning time to teach the entire family. Morning time is when your family gathers together to study, recite memory work, enjoy poetry, and listen to read alouds.

Play dough and coloring supplies are perfect for keeping little (and big!) fingers busy. The kids quietly listen while they draw, sketch, and color. Even your toddlers and preschoolers can join in.

Put your toddlers in their high chair during morning time and give then snack foods or special toys to play with. Pudding makes a great finger paint that’s safe to eat. Morning time in and of itself is more than enough for an enriching preschool curriculum.

3. Teach K-8 for Four Days and High School One Day

This year I’m trying a new time management trick in my homeschool. My youngest kids are using a 4-day school week, Monday through Thursday. We work through history, science, art, language arts, math, and Latin together. I focus solely on them for the school day and only briefly check with my high school teen to see how things are going.

Since we’re working on a four day week, my youngest kids have Fridays off. They play, explore the backyard, and goof off, leaving me free to focus on my high schooler.

Because teens can study independently for several days, my son doesn’t need me to oversee his studies. He watches the DVD math lecture before completing his math studies. He reads his history and answers the questions.

On Fridays, he and I sit down to discuss history and literature. I check science labs and grade tests. I answer questions and check to ensure he understands his studies.

So far it’s working wonderfully. My youngest children, who need me to hover over their every move, have my attention four days of the week, and I reserve Fridays for my teen.

4. Let Siblings Play Together

When I was homeschooling three young children with a toddler roaming the house, play times saved my sanity. The kids rotated through playing together while I worked one-on-one with a sibling.

I had a timetable for who was playing with who, who was playing alone or completing independent work, and who was with me. The goal was for each child to have time playing with each sibling, time alone, and time with me.

Let me tell you the logistics were crazy!

But once I had it figured out, life flowed smoothly. The little ones adored time with their older siblings. The older kids loved having a break. And it gave me one-on-one time with each child. I had the time I needed to teach math, tutor grammar, and explain writing assignments without worrying about the toddler painting the bathroom walls with toothpaste.

5. Color Code School Supplies

Color coding school supplies may sound funny for a time management tip, but do you know how much time I’ve spent dealing with kids arguing over school supplies, especially pencils?!

Seriously. One child would put a pencil down on the table. Another child would grab it. And a long and tedious argument would break out over whose pencil it was. It was like the kids preferred to fight than finish their math assignments!

School took forever to finish because I spent most of the day separating kids. I was fed up with the whole situation. Then one day, I was browsing the school and office section of the local store and discovered an array of pencil colors. {cue the Hallelujah chorus}

I found a solution to the constant sibling bickering! All school supplies were color coded. Even the pencils.

The bickering stopped. Everyone knew which color was theirs, and I could tell which child had forgotten to put their school supplies away. Color coding saved my sanity and countless hours of frustration and headaches from dealing with bickering kids.

A few easy time management tips and tricks make a world of difference when you’re homeschooling a large family. Look for opportunities to teach the same topic at multiple levels. Color code school supplies to prevent bickering. Schedule time for each child to play together and keep the toddlers entertained.

You’ll find that your homeschool flows much more smoothly.

What are your favorite time management tips for homeschooling a big family?

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